Chemical dependency can come in many forms. While dependency on chemicals can range from anything from prescription opioids to heroin, it will oftentimes lead to addiction. And veterans are at especially high risk for chemical dependency, as the trauma and stresses of service can turn many to substance use drugs and alcohol’s time to get help. Below is everything you need to know about chemical dependency, and where veterans can get help for substance abuse.
What Is Chemical Dependency?
Chemical dependency describes what happens when someone becomes dependent on a substance (like drugs or alcohol, or even cigarettes). This dependency is the body’s natural response to addictive chemicals. Chemical dependency can range from more benign things like coffee to dangerous substances such as methamphetamines. People with chemical dependency may continue to use their substance of choice even after it has caused damage to their bodies, relationships, careers, or loved ones.
When drugs like opioids are used, their chemicals attach themselves to certain receptors in the brain. This increases the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that affects the way the brain feels pleasure, which gives them their addictive quality. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Dependence develops when the neurons adapt to the repeated drug exposure and only function normally in the presence of the drug.”
While someone who is chemically dependent may be addicted, this is not always the case. People who suffer from chronic pain and are on an opioid regimen will almost always become dependent on their medications due to the effect it has on their bodies. To function free of pain, opioids are needed to perform normal daily activities.
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This dependence may not initially be an addiction, especially when it is medically monitored and does not cause problems in the individual’s life. However, when this dependency becomes more severe, or when used more than prescribed, it can often lead to addiction. The most important difference between chemical dependency and addiction is that dependence may not be destructive in a person’s life, but addiction always is.
Signs of Chemical Dependency in Veterans
For many veterans returning home, the trauma involved with service can be too much to handle, and as a result, many veterans turn to substances like drugs or alcohol to cope. This coping mechanism is especially dangerous, as it can often lead to chemical dependency, and eventually addiction. It’s important to understand the signs of chemical dependency, especially when it comes to veterans returning from service.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, a person can be considered chemically dependent if three or more of the following criteria are met:
- Tolerance to a psychoactive substance
- Withdrawal signs and symptoms when the substance is withheld
- Taking the substance in larger amounts or over a longer period of time than was intended (as in the case of prescription painkillers such as opioids)
- Unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance use
- A lot of time spent in activities necessary to obtain the substance
- Important social, occupational, or recreational activities given up or reduced because of substance use
Continued substance use despite having persistent or recurring physical or psychological problems likely to be caused or exacerbated by the substance.
Understanding these early signs of chemical dependency can help stop substance use from becoming substance abuse. If you recognize that you are displaying some of the above signs, it may be time for you to get help.
Where Veterans Can Get Help for Substance Abuse Near DeLand, Florida
Chemical dependency can be a difficult condition to recover from. Thankfully, at Heroes’ Mile in DeLand, Florida, our treatment staff is well-versed in dealing with substance abuse. Recovery from chemical dependency often starts with a veteran detox program. In this program, we offer all military personnel a place to safely quit drugs and alcohol without endangering their health. With 24/7 professional health care, individuals can beat the physical aspect of addiction and withdrawal, without the risk of relapse.
After detox, veterans can benefit from our residential rehabilitation program, where they can confront the mental rise of chemical dependency. This type of rehabilitation is especially important for veterans who may have turned to substances to escape the psychological wounds of war. During this program, veterans can learn how to cope with mental health conditions safely, without having to rely on substance abuse.
Some veterans also choose to enroll in programs such as our partial hospitalization program or an intensive outpatient program. During these addiction programs, veterans can commute to and from the treatment center, staying on-site for up to five hours a day. These types of programs offer veterans a way to transition back to normal life, while also reducing their risk for relapse.
At Heroes’ Mile in DeLand, Florida, we believe in veterans helping veterans. From our specially designed treatment plans to our world-class staff, our focus has always been on veteran-to-veteran care. We understand that the issues and struggles that veterans face are unique, and to have a successful recovery, they need support from people who know exactly where they’ve been and what they’re going through.
If you’re ready to break the cycle of chemical dependency, the time is now. Call our respectful admissions specialists at 888-838-6692, or contact us online. Whether you’re in the early stages of chemical dependency or nearing the end of your rope, Heroes’ Mile is here to help.